An elderly woman was lucky to escape serious injury yesterday when her car was hit from behind on State Highway 12, propelling her hatchback into a ditch and rupturing the petrol tank.

The accident occurred about 10am just west of Ohaeawai. The victim's car rolled upside down then came to rest on its side.

The woman was treated at the scene by St John for minor injuries.

The female driver of the other vehicle involved was later picked up by police walking down the middle of SH12.

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A spokesman for Kaikohe police said the woman had been referred to mental health services. She could also face charges in relation to the crash.

Volunteers from the Kaikohe Fire Brigade cleaned up the road and washed away the spilled petrol to prevent a fire.